Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday word, 13 Feb 2008

Wednesday, First Week of Lent (13 Feb 2008) Jon 3. 1-10; Ps 51; Lk 11. 29-32
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Showing God’s Mercy Is Our Goal

The atmosphere and the feel of Lent are distinct. Even its color, reddish purple, sets it apart and calls us to consider in a focused way Jesus’ suffering and death for us. The way others care for us, support us and love us, indeed the fact that others care, support and love us, causes us to consider ourselves: am I worthy of their support? why do people want to care for me? how do I repay another’s love?

Without being maudlin or scrupulous, realizing we are loved gives us pause. That Jesus suffered insult, injury and death for us moves us to consider ourselves and how we live and opens us to the mystery of God loving us in Jesus. We face the mystery of God’s mercy.

While we are in awe of God’s tender care for us we realize our need to dispose ourselves to God’s mercy and to cooperate with it. For example, I can cry out create a clean heart for me, O God, repeatedly. God’s response to me doesn’t make it happen; I need to align myself with God’s act of loving concern.

To align myself, to reorient my attitudes, to shape a new disposition express what to repent means. Jonah traveled a great distance from the west of Nineveh (in Iraq today) to announce to it the message God communicated to Jonah. Jesus was the prophet in Luke’s gospel, who traveled from his divinity into our humanity both to announce the word of God and to accomplish it. Jesus lived among people, yet their mistrust of God and reluctance to live the covenant kept people a great distance from Jesus. This distance was not geographic, it was a heart-measure, which defies the scales on maps.

As different from us as Jesus is--as God is from humans--Jesus is also one of us. Jesus’ humanity links us with God. The message of Jesus--that the kingdom emerges in our lives--demands we reorient our lives. Prophet Jesus calls for our response to his word and to his saving act of dying and rising so that we may live lives which make returns of love to God more easily. Hearts made supple by God allow us to show to others God’s mercy to us.
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